By Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
BOONEVILLE – The prize at the end of long months of effort is in the Booneville High School marching band’s grasp – the championship trophy as winner of the 3A Mississippi High School Activities Association and Mississippi Bandmasters Association State Marching Band Competition.
Earlier this month in Clinton the band competed against four other schools for the state title after being selected from 10 schools in the preliminary competition.
“We’re very proud of our kids and parents,” said John Emerson, who directs the band with his wife Lora Emerson. “We have incredible community support here. We don’t focus on trying to beat anyone else, just learning to perform the very best we can and everything else takes care of itself.
“We’re proud we won the gold medal, but more proud of all our kids have accomplished since July.”
Competition for the title included South Pontotoc, which earned second place, Louisville third place, Sumrall fourth place, and Mooreville fifth place.
Nettleton and North Pontotoc were among the 10 bands to compete in the 3A preliminaries but did not make it to the finals.
Booneville has won the championship trophy six times, including 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
“We’ve won more titles than any other school band, regardless of classification,” Emerson said.
A total of 94 students participated in the on-field production, including 83 band members plus some seventh- and eighth-graders who carried props.
The performance was set to three classical numbers – Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Antonio Vivaldi’s “Glorioso” and the Christmas carol “Angels We Have Heard On High.”
“We had an arranger, Alex Yoder of Ithaca, N.Y., put the music together for us and two talented individuals who wrote the percussion for us,” Emerson said. “Gilles Oulette of Nashville was the drill writer for the choreography and color guard work. We started about Christmastime last year to pull it all together, and the kids started learning the show at band camp in mid-July.”
Several special elements increased the overall visual and dramatic impact, particularly the seventh- and eighth-graders representing doves, carrying long poles with large paper doves on top that gave a true effect of doves flying about the stadium, Emerson said. Part of the background included a colorful yellow floor like a stage.
“This is probably the largest scale production we’ve ever done,” Emerson said. “I’m just real proud of the kids who have worked very hard and parents who built the props. Everyone was very involved … People told us over and over that it was a very, very beautiful show.”